Relishing in the Mysteries of God

The believer can find oneself relishing in the mysteries of God. Brian Chilton explains how as he explores Deuteronomy 29:29.

Source: Relishing in the Mysteries of God

By: Brian G. Chilton | August 14, 2022

The mysteries of God are something that should be relished and appreciated by the believer. While it sounds strange, a believer can find comfort in the fact that some things about God and his plans may remain hidden from human knowledge.

A tremendous theological aphorism reveals this truth in Deuteronomy 29:29, which reads, “The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29, CSB). The proverb is located between 29:22–28, which speaks to the punishments God inflicted on the nation of Israel for their rebellion and disloyalty in times past, and 30:1–10, which speaks to the future blessings Israel would find when they remembered their covenant responsibilities to God.

The Israelites may have wondered why God allowed them—his covenant people—to be taken into captivity in Egypt as he did. Some may even ask why God the Creator would even care whether people were faithful to him or not. Why should such a massive, awe-inspiring God concern himself with the affairs of mankind? Other theological inquiries were certainly made by the people of God during that time. Nonetheless, Deuteronomy 29:29 encouraged the people to relish and rest in the mysteries of God in three ways.

 

Relishing in the Hidden Mysteries of God

Some commentators hold that Deuteronomy 29:29 can stand alone on its own merits, and for good reason.[1] Deuteronomy 29:29 is compelling in that it does not seek to answer the theological questions held by the people. Neither does it attempt to provide an answer for why God allowed the nation to undergo some of the difficulties they had encountered mentioned earlier in the text, outside of the importance of their covenantal agreement with God. Rather, the text encourages believers in that some things are only known to God and will never be understood by humanity.

Paul picks up on this notion in Romans 9. At that time, many had wondered why God had chosen Israel as his covenant people. Many others wondered why Gentiles were being allowed into the family of God. Paul answers, “On the contrary, who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” (Rom. 9:20, CSB). In some sense, Paul’s answer extends back to the logic of Deuteronomy 29:29—some things about God and his plans cannot be known by humanity.

 

Relishing in the Revealed Mysteries of God

But what about those truths that God has revealed to humanity? Deuteronomy 29:29 notes that people should claim the revealed truths of God and live according to the standards given therein. While it is fun to discuss and contemplate the hidden mysteries of God, we also bear responsibility for following those things that God has revealed about himself to us. The Israelites enjoyed a covenant relationship with God. While modern believers are under a new and better law of grace, we also find ourselves responsible for those things that God expects of us. Among the more important matters include the following:

  • Loving God with all our being (Deut. 6:5ff; Matt. 22:37).
  • Loving our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39).
  • Loving others with the love given to us by God (Jn. 13:34).

 

Relishing in the Teleological Mysteries of God

When I say teleological here, I speak to where the logic of the hidden mysteries of God leads. In other words, what is the result of divine hidden mysteries? What should we take from this? Even though inquisitive minds desire to know the depths of God’s infinite wisdom, it is actually comforting that we cannot know everything about God. If we could, then it could be argued that God was merely a human invention. Since we cannot know everything about God, even with the revealed information given to us, then we can know that God is greater, grander, and far more awe-inspiring than what we could ever imagine.

I am writing a book on heaven. In my research on heaven, I have learned that heaven is not going to be boring. Rather, we will spend an eternity learning more and more about the nature of God. As a trained systematic theologian, I take comfort in that notion. Heaven becomes even more compelling and fascinating when we know that we will continue to learn about God for all of time.

 

Conclusion

The mysteries of God should not startle or discourage us. We know that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16) and does not lie (Titus 1:2). Because of God’s loving and holy nature, he can be trusted. Furthermore, God has given us enough information to know how we can have a relationship with him, how this salvation transforms us, and what the end result of history will be. However, inabilities to resolve certain theological conundrums should not depress or disturb the believer. Rather, it only propagates the truths found in Deuteronomy 29:29 in that some truths are only known and understood in the mind of God. Seeing that God created all that exists, the scientific, theological, historical, and philosophical matters known only to God far excels what little insights are actually known and understood by humanity.

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast and the founder of Bellator Christi. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); earned a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and plans to pursue philosophical studies in the future. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical hospice chaplain. Additionally, he serves as an editor for the Eleutheria Journal. At the prompting of the Lord, Brian established Bellator Christi Ministries in 2012. The ministry is aimed to provide readily available resources in theology, apologetics, biblical studies, and philosophy to those who want to know what Christianity teaches and why it should be believed. In 2019, Brian published his first book entitled the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. After finishing his Ph.D., Brian intends to publish more books. His areas of expertise include early NT creeds, near-death experiences, biblical reliability, the blend of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the need for empathy.

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

© 2022. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Stephen J. Andrews and Robert D. Bergen, Deuteronomy, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Max Anders, ed (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2009), 332–333.

Truth, Perception, and Reality

Brian Chilton describes the difference between reality and perception. He argues that truth is a transcendent reality.

Source: Truth, Perception, and Reality

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 25, 2022

Is truth found in personal perceptions or is it grounded in an independent transcendent reality? Multiple businesses and even churches have used the phrase “perception is reality” when referencing the importance of meeting customer needs. If a customer feels that he or she is not getting the service they expect, then their perception of the received service will lead them away from the business in question. While it is not the intent of this author to endorse or condemn a business or church’s employment of such a phrase, as one who is theologically and philosophically inclined, every statement and concept must be tested. Thus, it must be asked, does the way a person views a certain activity and/or thought make that belief real or even true?

The phrase found its origin in political strategist Lee Atwater who worked for the George Bush, Sr. political campaign in 1988. Atwater, who died from brain cancer three years after devising the phrase, helped Bush reclaim a 17-point deficit to win the 1988 Presidential election.[1] Atwater held that if one could lead the populace to believe something as true, then that person’s perception of the truth becomes reality to that group. Thus, it mattered less about what was true than what people thought was true.

Others have furthered Atwater’s assessment to claim that perception means more than reality.[2] That is, a person’s belief about what is true matters more than what is actually true. If the statement is understood correctly, then it seems to be a situation in which truth is altered to meet the needs of the one promoting a certain perception. But is this not the same as promoting a falsehood?

This article is not intended to be political. As such, it does not endorse any political party or candidate. The only reason political persons were mentioned is that the phrase found its origin in politics. As previously noted, the article does not intend to disparage anyone who has used the phrase. However, the seeker of truth must ask whether the logic of the phrase holds philosophically, as the philosopher questions everything.

Sure, wars have been fought and political agendas have been set because of the perception of a person or group of people. But do those perceptions automatically ensure that the promoted perception matches reality as it truly exists? Surely, the perceptions of Hitler and radical extremist groups do not match reality. Furthermore, does this not cause the nature of reality to become dependent on what one thinks rather than what actually is? There are quite a few logical problems with the phrase, many more than I assumed when I first started my investigation.

There are two camps in this debate: reality-over-perception (that is, reality holds greater importance than a person’s perception) versus perception-over-reality (that a person’s perception of truth matters more than what exists in space and time). The reality-over-perception theory is seemingly the preferable viewpoint. As we examine the debate, let us first define what reality and perception are. Then, we will need to draw distinctions between the two entities before showing why reality, in fact, matters more than perception rather than vice versa. Finally, we will issue a warning of what could come when perceptions are elevated over truth and reality.

The Nature of Reality and Perception

The core issue at hand is what makes something true. Is truth something that is external to a person? Or is truth relative and found within a person’s belief system? This is the crux that forms the primary distinction between the reality-over-perception theory and Atwater’s perception-over-reality theory. What is truth? The answer shapes how one responds to the debate.

Truth (i.e., reality) is best defined by Aristotle who wrote, “To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false.”[3] In other words, truth is that which corresponds with external realities. Thus, truth is transcendent. It exists outside of a person’s opinion and desire. If a person claims that the sky is red when the wavelengths match the color that is identified as blue, then it cannot be said that the person is speaking the truth. Comparably, a student who claims that 5 + 5 = 15 is most assuredly wrong despite their convictions to the otherwise.

In contrast, perception is how a person perceives reality through the lens of their sense experience. Philosophically, this includes a concept known as the qualia, which is defined as “the aspects of your sensations—the way things look, feel, smell, taste, and sound.”[4] A person’s qualia may differ according to their experience of reality. For instance, some Protestants cheer the work of Martin Luther as he led the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s. In stark contrast, some Catholics abhor his work, believing that he unnecessarily split the church. The beliefs of each group impacted the perception of their qualia and vice versa.

Why the Transcendent Nature of Reality Trumps Perception

To recap, truth is a transcendent reality that exists beyond the scope of a person’s experience, while a person’s perception is how an individual or group interprets their qualia. However, reality, by necessity, supersedes individual perception because of the nature of truth.

Previously, the color of the sky was given as an example. Some may argue that a person with regular vision may see colors to one degree, whereas those who are color blind perceive the color in a different hue. Thus, it may appear that each person’s qualia is different. The argument is not as strong as taken at first glance, because even though the color is perceived differently, the wavelength of the color in question remains the same. So, even if one person’s qualia led the person to believe that a color is purple when in fact it is blue, the wavelength of the color in question is the same even though perceived differently.

Another example given concerned the Protestant Reformation. While some Protestants and Catholics view the work of Luther and the Reformation differently, the common transcendent reality was that Luther and other Reformers led the movement in the 16th century. A person’s perception of the event does not change the historical realities found in Luther’s work and other Reformers of the time.

Lastly, you have probably heard the philosophical puzzle of a tree in a forest. If a tree fell in the wilderness, would it make a sound even if no one was present to hear it? Because of the workings of physics, soundwaves are created when vibrations are passed through mediums such as air or water. Thus, the crashing of a felled tree would create the vibrations necessary to create a sound regardless of how few hearers are there to audibly receive the vibrations. Even if no one is present, the actualized vibrations would create the potential for hearing. As these exercises show, reality is not dependent on personal perception. Instead, a person’s perceptions are based upon the external reality experienced.

The Consequences of Elevating Perception Over Reality

If people begin elevating perception over reality, then the basis by which science and historical studies are conducted are demolished. No one could ever postulate what occurred prior to the present time and no scientific advancements could be made as everything would become personal preference. The healthcare industry would suffer as each person could claim that they do not have a disease even though the evidence suggests that he or she does. Then, the person would not receive the treatment that could cure the disease that he or she does not believe exists.

Theologically, faith matters would then become a matter of self-invention rather than encounters with the divine. Self-deluded cult leaders could then persuade countless individuals to do reprehensible things for the leader. The leader would argue that his perception is true even if reality does not support his claims. People could never be held accountable for crimes, and judges could never convict criminals. In literature, the author’s intent is replaced by the reader’s misconceptions, and so on. Diminishing the external reality of truth creates a slippery slope that leads to a host of problems.

Conclusion

Truth matters. Truth grounds and establishes us. Jesus noted the freeing nature of truth, stating that “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).[5] It is understood why businesses and churches gravitate toward the phrase. Because these institutions want to create the best experience for their customers, and rightfully so. The intention behind the phrase is justified and understandable. However, the philosophical connotations of the phrase are quite troubling. Therefore, I propose that we should replace the phrase perception is reality with the phrase perception is a personal view of reality. In this way, the nature of truth is not diminished and the importance of the person’s perception of reality is also emphasized. The provider of a service will want to afford the best experience possible for his or her customers. But there is too much at stake to eliminate the value of truth itself.

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast and the founder of Bellator Christi. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); earned a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and plans to pursue philosophical studies in the future. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical hospice chaplain. Additionally, he serves as an editor for the Eleutheria Journal. At the prompting of the Lord, Brian established Bellator Christi Ministries in 2012. The ministry is aimed to provide readily available resources in theology, apologetics, biblical studies, and philosophy to those who want to know what Christianity teaches and why it should be believed. In 2019, Brian published his first book entitled the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. After finishing his Ph.D., Brian intends to publish more books. His areas of expertise include early NT creeds, near-death experiences, biblical reliability, the blend of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the need for empathy.

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

Notes

[1] Simon Kelner, “Perception is Reality: The Facts Won’t Matter in Next Year’s Election,” Independent.co.uk (Oct. 14, 2014), https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/perception-is-reality-the-facts-won-t-matter-in-next-year-s-general-election-9829132.html.

[2] “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This does not mean that you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage.” Ivanka Trump, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Love and Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009), Kindle.

[3] Aristotle, Metaphysics 1011b25, in Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vols.17, 18, Translated by Hugh Tredennick. (Medford, MA: Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1933, 1989), Logos Bible Software.

[4] Edward Feser, Philosophy of Mind (London, UK: Oneworld, 2006), 15.

[5] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman, 2020).

© 2022. BellatorChristi.com.

God Exists Necessarily as Pure Actuality

Brian Chilton discusses God’s nature as pure actuality. He gives four reasons why God’s existence necessitates his being as pure act.

Source: God Exists Necessarily as Pure Actuality

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 3, 2022

 

While reading through Edward Feser’s masterpiece Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction, I was reintroduced to a divine trait of God that does not always get the most attention—the pure actuality of God. To understand what is meant by pure actuality, we must first consider the difference between act and potency. And to understand that we must investigate the works of Thomas Aquinas, particularly his Summa Theologica. It should be noted that while this article is intended to be written for general audiences, some of the concepts may take some time to plow through. But rest assured, once you master the difference between act and potency and God’s existence as pure actuality, you will find that it was time well spent.

 

Divine Pure Actuality from Act and Potency

The theory of act and potency precedes Aquinas and find root in Aristotelianism. Aristotle taught that being-in-act is the way something actually is, whereas being-in-potency is the way something could be, or “the ways a thing could potentially be.”[1] The two extremes, as Feser notes, are act (something as it exists) and nothingness (the absence of existence). Potency—the potential for something to take shape or behave—is the middle ground between act and nothingness.[2] Therefore, something must exist as being-in-act before anything potential could exist. To give an example, this article is written by me (Brian Chilton). I (Brian Chilton) must exist—that is being-in-act—to give rise to the formulation of this article. Before I wrote the article, the article existed as a potency. The materials were present for me to publish this article (i.e., a laptop, a word document, and a website on which to publish it). Before writing the article, it existed as potency in my mind. But now that I have written it, it exists as act. Nevertheless, the article required the existence of something in act (myself) before the article’s potentiality (in my mind) could be moved to actuality (published on the website).

Taking this to its absolute form, Aquinas explains that something must exist as pure actuality. Pure actuality is something that exists absolutely without any potentiality within itself. The only One who exists as pure actuality is God. Aquinas writes the following:

First, because it was shown above that there is some first being, whom we call God; and that this first being must be pure act, without the admixture of any potentiality, for the reason that, absolutely, potentiality is posterior to act. Now everything which is in any way changed, is in some way in potentiality. Hence it is evident that it is impossible for God to be in any way changeable.[3]

Some theologians may debate Aquinas’s understanding of God’s unchangeability when considering the incarnation of Christ and so on. However, God’s existence as pure actuality is fairly well established by the nature of God’s being. That is, God exists as pure act without potentiality. The personal name of God justifies this claim, as he is the “I AM THAT I AM” (Exod. 3:14).[4] God’s existence as pure actuality is necessary for four reasons.

 

Divine Pure Actuality is Necessary for Absolute Being

First, God’s existence as pure actuality is necessitated by his absolute being. As noted above, God described himself through special revelation as the “I AM THAT I AM” (Exod. 3:14), otherwise known as Yahweh (יִהְוֶה). The personal name of God indicates his existence as pure actuality. As such, Feser explains that “Pure active potency or power unmixed with any passive potency or potentiality is just pure actuality, and identified by the Scholastics with God; in everything other than God active potency is mixed with passive potency.”[5] Thus, everything that begins to exist had the potential of coming into existence. However, God has always existed as an absolute being. Therefore, there is no potency in God’s being. God has always existed and always will. He is sheer existence.

 

Divine Pure Actuality is Necessary for the Existence of Passive Potencies

Second, God’s pure actuality is necessitated by the existence of passive potencies. Passive potencies are contrasted with active potencies in the sense that passive potencies can be affected by something outside of themselves. In contrast, active potencies are powers that have the ability to bring about an effect.[6] Everything that begins to exist came about as a passive potency having been impacted by the act that brought it into existence. The universe, the physical molecular structure to all things, angels, and even you and I all exist as potentialities since we have not existed since eternity past.[7] Therefore, something must have existed as pure actuality to account for the existence of all potentialities. The only being who could have existed as pure actuality is God himself.

 

Divine Pure Actuality is Necessary for the Actualization of Potencies

Third, God must necessarily exist as pure actuality to account for the actualization of potencies. This point is very similar to the one previously made. The distinction is that pure actuality is not only necessary to account for the existence of potentialities but also for their actualization. By actualization, I mean bringing something that could be into reality. The principle of causality states that potency can only be actualized (i.e, brought into being) if something already in existence caused it to be.[8] Thus, God must have existed and continues to exist as pure act to explain the actualization of all things that exist. This correlates with the biblical teaching that “everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16).

 

Divine Pure Actuality is Necessary for the Existence of Secondary Agents

Fourth and finally, God’s existence as pure actuality is necessitated by his existence as the primal cause for secondary agents. Agents (i.e., beings that can enact change in something else) exist as either primary causes or secondary causes.[9] For instance, if a person strikes a white cue ball to impact the other billiard balls on a billiard table, the person striking the cue ball acts as the primary agent. The cue ball acts as a secondary agent as it strikes the other balls on the table. Even more complex, a primary cause existing as pure act creates secondary free will agents who can impact other things in the universe. Every person who has ever lived exists as a secondary causality because a primary agent gave them their causal power. Thus, God as pure actuality created free agents who are responsible for their actions. In this sense, God is the ultimate cause of all things but can coexist in a world where secondary agents choose badly. God is not responsible for the secondary agents’ actions as they are free agents. However, God exists as pure actuality, being that he is responsible for the creation of everything that exists. His pure actuality could even be pressed further to show how God sustains his creation, as well.

 

Conclusion

Granted, this discussion can become philosophically complex. Nonetheless, God’s existence as pure act is rooted in both natural and special revelation. Multiple applications can be derived from this study, applications that we may further investigate in future articles. Suffice it to say, for now, no one can lay claim to their own self-existence as each person, each molecule, each galaxy, and each corner of the universe owe its existence to the One who exists as pure actuality. And the only One who can lay claim to pure actuality is God and God alone.

 

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast and the founder of Bellator Christi. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); earned a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and plans to pursue philosophical studies in the future. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical hospice chaplain. Additionally, he serves as an editor for the Eleutheria Journal. At the prompting of the Lord, Brian established Bellator Christi Ministries in 2012. The ministry is aimed to provide readily available resources in theology, apologetics, biblical studies, and philosophy to those who want to know what Christianity teaches and why it should be believed. In 2019, Brian published his first book entitled the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. After finishing his Ph.D., Brian intends to publish more books. His areas of expertise include early NT creeds, near-death experiences, biblical reliability, the blend of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the need for empathy.

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

Notes

[1] Edward Feser, Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction, editiones scholasticae, vol. 39 (Lancaster, UK: Gazelle, 2014), 32.

[2] Ibid., 33.

[3] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I.q9.a1, in A Summa of the Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, ed. Peter Kreeft (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), 105.

[4] אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה (Exod. 3:14).

[5] Feser, Scholastic Metaphysics, 39.

[6] Ibid.

[7] That is, “Potency always presupposes some actuality that shapes or circumscribes it.” Feser, Scholastic Metaphysics, 86.

[8] “The principle of causality … tells us that if a potency is actualized, that can only be because some actual cause actualized it.” Ibid., 105.

[9] Ibid., 154.

 

© 2022. BellatorChristi.com.

Is the Law of First Mention a Proper Biblical Hermeneutic?

Brian Chilton discusses the law of first mention and why it fails as a proper tool for biblical interpretation, especially when used alone.

Source: Is the Law of First Mention a Proper Biblical Hermeneutic?

Is the Law of First Mention a Proper Biblical Hermeneutic?

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 21, 2022

Recently, Curtis Evelo (Bellator Christi Podcast co-host) told me about a conversation he had with an individual about biblical interpretation. Apparently, the individual held that the wine that Jesus miraculously brought forth out of water in John 4 was merely unfermented grape juice. When asked why he held this view, he contended that to hold that the wine held fermented content was to argue that Jesus was a sinner because wine is said to be a mocker in Proverbs 20:1. Curtis asked him what this had to do with Jesus’s miraculous transformation of water into wine. The unnamed individual then said that he used the law of first mention. According to the law of first mention, the interpreter first examines the initial place where the term or doctrine is taught in the Scripture. Then, the initial usage of the term and/or doctrine serves as a guideline for interpreting other subsequent passages that teach on the issue.

Let me first say that in all my biblical hermeneutics courses, I have never heard of the law of first mention. I have had some world-class instructors who can read the Bible in its original languages without a translation in hand and, to my knowledge, they never mentioned such a law of biblical interpretation. There is simply no good reason to follow the law of first mention for the following reasons. As an aside, the issue concerning the use of a Christian’s use of alcohol is a highly controversial topic. We simply do not have space to deal with the ethical ramifications of alcohol use. We are merely examining the efficacy of the law of first mention, or the lack thereof.

 

The Law of First Mention Fails to Engage the Individual Text

The first problem with the law of first mention is that the tactic fails to consider the literal interpretation of each biblical text. Considering the topic at hand, earlier texts really do nothing to assist the interpreter with engaging with whether a historical event occurred or not. Earlier teachings may help with understanding the thought process behind a text in question. But it cannot overrule other factors such as social practice and norms, extra-biblical historical events, word studies, and other social matters that come into play. Furthermore, the historical context of the first mention must also be an issue of investigation, as one must remember that the modern interpreter is separated from the biblical times by at least 2,000, more like 4–6,000 years from the Old Testament eras. Additionally, the writings of Scripture are not necessarily in chronological order. So, determining when something was first uttered may be far more complex than originally held.

 

The Law of First Mention Fails to Accommodate Theological Complexities

Second, the law of first mention does not consider the theological complexities found in Scripture. Without considering various theological issues, one is led to all kinds of absurdities. For instance, the first two instances where wine is mentioned in the Bible come in the book of Genesis. The first reference is in Genesis 9:21, where it is said of Noah that “He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and uncovered himself inside the tent” (Gen. 9:21).[1] Does this then imply that each believer should drink wine, become drunk, and uncover oneself? Certainly not! Obviously, this is not what Curtis’s friend was trying to imply.

The second mention is no better for his cause, for it says, “Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High” (Gen. 14:18). This is of no help when trying to understand whether Jesus’s wine was fermented or not. Thus, as one can tell, the law of first mention fails to account for the theological complexities of the text. The first instance serves as a warning of a life that strayed from God, whereas the second shows the gift that Melchizedek gave to Abraham, which may have included fermented wine. Does this then indicate that everyone should drink wine? Of course not! Because other texts serve as warnings, exhorting individuals to avoid drunkenness (i.e., Prov. 23:20; Isa. 5:22; Gal. 5:19–21; Eph. 5:18). Yet this shows the ineptitude of the law of first mention when used alone. The law of first mention would seem to indicate that everyone should drink wine and get drunk if the instance of Noah is used; but as the specified texts suggest, this is not the case.

Finally, the law of first mention fails to account for the gradual betterment of each subsequent covenant. If one accepts the law of first mention, then the old covenants are inherently better than the newer covenants. However, the new covenant in Christ is superior to all previous covenants. The writer of Hebrews states, “By saying a new covenant, he has declared that the first is obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old is about to pass away” (Heb. 8:13). Not only does the author note that the new covenant is better than the covenants of old, but he also proclaims that the new has made the old obsolete. Therefore, this poses a major difficulty for the law of first mention, as it shows that there may be times when the new supersedes the old. Yes, the new covenant is indeed built upon concepts found in previous covenants. However, the new covenant does not require animal sacrifices, rituals, or the keeping of certain holidays. Rather, it is built upon the sacrifice of Christ himself. The believer is no longer under the law of old. He or she is under the law of grace. The new covenant’s supersession of the old creates a cataclysmic problem for the law of first mention.

 

The Law of First Mention is Based on a Logical Fallacy

Finally, the law of first mention is seemingly built upon a logical fallacy known as the fallacy of antiquity or the fallacy of tradition. The fallacy of antiquity is a false belief that holds that something must be better if it is older. This is the opposite of what is known as the fallacy of novelty, which holds that something must be better if it is new.

Suppose a person argues that original video games are better than modern video games. If this were so in all cases, then the paddle game Pong would be better than recent sports games, since it is the very first video game developed. However, Pong can in no way match the complexities and graphics found in modern games. For instance, being a football fan, I love the Madden football series. There is no comparison between Pong and the Madden series, as Madden adds realistic graphics, color commentary, and the opportunity to call numerous plays. In contrast, Pong allows you to move a white bar on a black screen to toss a white ball to one’s opponent. It could be that some aspects of older games are better than newer games.[2] But it is a hard sale to claim that all older games are better than all newer ones.

Another misconception that people hold is that times were always better in the 50s and 60s than in modern times. However, one often does not consider the racial tensions of the 50s. If a person was black and lived in some sectors of the South, then the 50s were exponentially worse than modern times. Thus, this view shows the difficulties associated with an appeal to antiquity. The reality is that such a claim is not always true. The law of first things appears to be guilty of the same fallacy. Accepting the first mention of an issue in the Bible as the linchpin for all future references is nothing more than adopting the fallacy of antiquity.

 

Conclusion

The law of first mention fails as a proper hermeneutic on several fronts. First, it does not adequately handle the hermeneutical complexities of each passage at hand. Second, it fails to examine the theological intricacies throughout the totality of Scripture, especially when concerned with the supremacy of the new covenant over the old. Finally, the law of first mention is built upon the logical fallacy known as the appeal to antiquity. With all this noted, one may still find some benefits in studying the first place where an idea or word is used in Scripture. Some have found it beneficial to examine the first time that the term “light” is used in Genesis. Nevertheless, such a practice should never be used in isolation. It should always accompany linguistic, historical, and theological depths to find authorial intent. The goal of biblical interpretation is to understand what the author is trying to communicate to his/her reader. As such, the law of first mention does not assist in this endeavor and can lead to absurdities if pressed too far.

 

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast and the founder of Bellator Christi. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); earned a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and plans to pursue philosophical studies in the future. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical hospice chaplain. Additionally, he serves as an editor for the Eleutheria Journal. At the prompting of the Lord, Brian established Bellator Christi Ministries in 2012. The ministry is aimed to provide readily available resources in theology, apologetics, biblical studies, and philosophy to those who want to know what Christianity teaches and why it should be believed. In 2019, Brian published his first book entitled the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. After finishing his Ph.D., Brian intends to publish more books. His areas of expertise include early NT creeds, near-death experiences, biblical reliability, the blend of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the need for empathy.

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

Notes

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman, 2020).

[2] One case being where old hockey games would allow you to shove a player into his team’s bench and allowed you to shatter the glass if you were to hit the puck just right. But does this indicate that the overall game is better? Probably not.

 

© 2022. BellatorChristi.com.

Why Asking Jesus Into Your Heart May Be Biblical (If Properly Understood)

Is asking Jesus into your heart biblical? Brian Chilton argues that it is as long as the “heart” is correctly understood.

Source: Why Asking Jesus Into Your Heart May Be Biblical (If Properly Understood)

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 7, 2022

Our generation is one that is hyper-skeptical and questioning. That is not necessarily a bad thing, especially given the amount of depravity that has been exposed in some Christian organizations—though thankfully this does not include all of them. Reformations are always needed as we continue to pursue Christlikeness, expose sinful behaviors, and seek transformation to become better servants of the Lord. While some areas of critique could be harmful (like deconstructionism), other areas could lead to better and more fruitful understandings.

One evangelistic methodology that has received substantial pushback is the practice of asking Jesus into one’s heart. Popular pastors and teachers, such as David Platt, have claimed that asking Jesus into one’s heart is nothing more than superstition. Platt even thinks that such a practice can lead to damning consequences. To hear Platt’s comments on the matter, watch the short video at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPhEEzjU8xQ. But is asking Jesus into one’s heart truly a bad idea? It depends on what one means by the phrase.

 

Why Asking Jesus Into the Heart is Often Challenged

If one watched the video in which Platt provides his rebuttal, then the core reasoning behind the rebuke is observed. The problem is not so much in the practice of asking Jesus into one’s heart. Rather, the problem is in thinking that one can say a formalized prayer in such a way that it becomes a magical incantation. Now, the vast majority of pastors who tell others to ask Jesus into their heart do not assume that the prayer is a magical practice. However, with the modern humanistic approach to evangelism—that is, the belief that we can bring someone to faith—assumes that a prayer must be prayed in such a way to make salvation take effect.

Honestly, I can sympathize with Platt and others who have questioned the practice. Trevin Wax adds that Romanian Christians have asked him the same kind of questions that Platt presented.[1] The problem is when one thinks that a prayer can save instead of committing oneself to Christ and allowing him to become the Lord of one’s life. If a person realizes what the biblical writers meant by heart, then one finds greater clarity.

 

The Heart References a Person’s Entire Being

 

The biblical writers understood the heart differently than we do. For many, the heart is the organ that pumps blood to the body. But the biblical concept refers to the totality of one’s being. The Hebrew terms לֵב (lēb);לֵבָב  (lēbāb), translated as “heart,” was assumed to depict the center of a person’s emotions, passions, thoughts, and decisions.[2] The heart described the inner man. In a manner of speaking, the lebab was a central part of the human soul. For the psalmist, the heart was the cockpit of the mind and will. The psalmist writes, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever” (Psa. 73:26).[3] Job adds, “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding (lebab). It is impossible for God to do wrong, and for the Almighty to act unjustly” (Job 34:10). In Exodus, when the Pharaoh was said to change his mind about releasing the Hebrews, he was said to have changed his heart (lebab) (Exod. 14:5).

The NT word for heart is καρδία is defined as “the causative source of a person’s psychological life in its various aspects, but with special emphasis upon thoughts—that is, “heart, inner self, mind.”[4] Like its Hebrew counterpart, the Greek term for heart holds a deeper connotation. Thus, when Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt. 22:37)—referring to Deuteronomy 6:5—he is saying that a person must love God with all one’s being.

Additionally, when God gives one over to the desires of one’s heart (cardia), God allows them the freedom to follow their desires and cravings, even though they are not the best for them. In one of Jesus’s parables, he notes the procrastination of a wicked servant in thinking that the Lord would delay his coming. The servant “says in his heart (cardia), ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and starts to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk” (Lk. 12:45). In this sense, heart (cardia) references a person’s mind.

 

Abiding Presence of God

Another aspect of the common practice of asking Jesus into one’s heart is the abiding presence of God. Is it theologically correct to claim that Jesus enters into one’s being? Absolutely! Jesus teaches that a person’s fruitfulness is directly tied to their relational status with him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. For instance, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples” (Jn. 15:5–6a, 7–8). Earlier in the teaching, Jesus added, “Remain (or, “abide”) in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me” (Jn. 15:4).

The abiding connection between Jesus and the disciple has been intensified since the day of Pentecost. Because since the time of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes to the saint of God and directs them in the ways of God. Case in point, Jesus taught that “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (Jn. 16:13). The abiding relationship of God begins when a person asks God to take control of his or her life. Such an experience is encapsulated with an ancient confession, which reads, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart (cardia) that God raised him form the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart (cardia), resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:9–10).[5] Even Paul had a connection with the people he served, writing, “I have you in my heart” (Phil. 1:7).

 

Conclusion

If the concept of the heart (לֵבָב, καρδία) is understood within its biblical parameters, it is completely biblical to tell someone to ask Jesus into their heart. However, Platt and others are also justified to critique modern evangelistic methodologies. The problem is neither with asking Jesus into one’s heart nor the language employed. Rather, the problem is with an unbiblical understanding of what this practice entails. Asking Jesus into your heart does not mean that you say a prayer and continue to live like you were. Such a prayer should not afford a false sense of assurance. Instead, the practice of asking Jesus into your heart includes surrendering every aspect of your life to Almighty God. Worded another way, you are handing over the controls of your life to Jesus when you ask him into your heart. You are giving Jesus the license to direct you, fill your life with the Spirit of God, and to enter the citizenship of God’s kingdom. Asking Jesus into your heart means that you are totally forfeiting your rights, your opinions, your thoughts, and practices into the awe-inspiring love and peace of the Creator of the cosmos. Yes, asking Jesus into your heart is completely biblical, so long as you understand what such a practice includes.

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast and the founder of Bellator Christi. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); earned a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and plans to pursue philosophical studies in the future. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical hospice chaplain. Additionally, he serves as an editor for the Eleutheria Journal. At the prompting of the Lord, Brian established Bellator Christi Ministries in 2012. The ministry is aimed to provide readily available resources in theology, apologetics, biblical studies, and philosophy to those who want to know what Christianity teaches and why it should be believed. In 2019, Brian published his first book entitled the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. After finishing his Ph.D., Brian intends to publish more books. His areas of expertise include early NT creeds, near-death experiences, biblical reliability, the blend of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the need for empathy.

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

Notes

[1] Trevin Wax, “Is It Biblical to Ask Jesus Into Your Heart?,” thegospelcoalition.org (May 16, 2012), https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/is-it-biblical-to-ask-jesus-into-your-heart/, accessed June 6, 2022.

[2] Jonathon Lookadoo, “Body,” Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series, Douglas Mangum, et. al., eds (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), Logos Bible Software.

 

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman, 2020).

 

[4] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 320.

[5] The early confession ends with verse 9. This confession, like most other early creeds, most likely dates to no later than two years after the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

 

© 2022. BellatorChristi.com.

How Do You Reconcile Luke’s Genealogy with Matthew’s?

Justin Angelos discusses the differences between the genealogies in Matthew and Luke and shows why there are no major issues between the two.

Source: How Do You Reconcile Luke’s Genealogy with Matthew’s?

Christianity Offers the Best Solution to the Problem of Evil

Brian Chilton examines four options and shows why Christianity offers the best solution to the problem of evil.

Source: Christianity Offers the Best Solution to the Problem of Evil

By: Brian G. Chilton | May 29, 2022

 

Another week, another tragedy. This time, we heard of the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Like most of you, I am troubled by the incessant and increasing reports of violence across our nation and world. For many folks, these senseless acts of violence leave them with a tinge of doubt. Why is it that a benevolent God would permit such acts to occur? This question enters the philosophical and theological sphere known as theodicy. Theodicy ponders the goodness of God’s providence in light of acts of evil.

Bellator Christi Ministries has addressed the problem of theodicy in considerable detail on both the website (https://bellatorchristi.com) and the Bellator Christi Podcast. While we could go back through those issues, I think a more pressing issue is at hand. By their statements online, I have observed that some people have contemplated the thought of hitching their wagon to another theology in light of such senseless acts of evil. This is not a good idea, for reasons I hope to show. For the remainder of this article, I would like to pose four different theological and philosophical options that cover the problem of theodicy, and I will show that Christianity holds the best answer for why a benevolent God permits evil acts. The article examines the following parameters: 1) either God exists, or he doesn’t; 2) humans have free will, or they don’t; 3) God is benevolent, vengeful, or both; 4) there is ultimate justice, or there isn’t.

 

Option A: Atheism—No God, Questionable Freedom, No Justice

When acts of violence occur, it is strange that many begin to gravitate toward the position of atheism. Because many believe that a loving, benevolent God would never allow evil acts to occur, it is naturally assumed that such a God does not exist. Most problematically for the atheist is that ultimate justice cannot be found. If there is no God, then there is no day of reckoning, no scales that are measured, and no ultimate meaning to anything. One may very well assume that good and evil are just figments of our imagination. Even though atheism is a popular go-to theory, the worldview only exacerbates the problem when it is taken to its logical end. If you follow the route of atheism, you will find that not only do you not find an answer to why evil things occur, but you will also find that you have no standard by which to gauge anything evil in the first place as well as no final standard of justice. If you have no God, then you have no morality. If you have no God, then you also have no ultimate justice. Life then becomes nothing more than pitiless indifference.

 

Option B: Universalism—Benevolent God, No Justice

Universalists hold that everyone, no matter their theological moorings or ethical behavior, will go to heaven in the end. Admittedly, while this is one heresy that I wish were true, the aspect of justice is highly questionable in this worldview. True, it could be that the ethically immoral go through a time of purgatory before going to heaven. However, what if the person does not desire to go to heaven? Sounds strange, but it is not beyond the scope of possibility. Consider the lyrics of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. The authors of the song appear to want nothing to do with heaven. Furthermore, is there a reckoning for evil acts in universalism? Though universalism is better than atheism, it does not seem to have the power necessary to deal with evil acts. Additionally, it does not emphasize the great disdain that God has for sin. Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35–36, the writer of Hebrews notes, “For we know the one who has said, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:30).[1]

 

Option C: Fatalism—Vengeful God, No Choice

Fatalism is the belief that human beings hold no free will and, thereby, no responsibility. Fatalism may come in the form of naturalistic atheism, deism, or some forms of Christianity. However, fatalism does not answer the problem of evil. For the atheistic varieties of fatalism, the worldview does not resolve the problem of evil actions for the reasons mentioned in Option A. For deistic and theistic versions of fatalism, everything comes about by the pre-planned will of God with no human responsibility. This is not to be compared with divine foreknowledge of the willing acts of free agents. Rather, this view holds that God pre-planned everything to come about as it has. The problem with this mentality is self-evident. God is presumed to be the source of evil in this worldview as human beings do not have the capacity to choose other than their pre-designed nature and choices are dictated. Therefore, the ethical and moral standard of God becomes suspect. Of the three positions given thus far, this position holds a slightly higher rank than atheism but less than universalism.

 

Option D: Christianity—Benevolent, Just God Overseeing a World of Free Agents

Thankfully, a fourth option exists. The classic Christian worldview holds the best answer to the problem of evil. The position is as follows: A benevolent, just God created and oversees a world of human free agents and will hold each person accountable for their deeds in the afterlife. For this position to be true, let’s examine four truths the Scripture teaches.

 

Truth #1: God is loving and just. While space does not permit us to afford a full examination of God’s goodness and just nature, let us consider a few passages as a case study. First, God’s benevolence is shown in his great love for humanity. The apostle John states, “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10). Furthermore, Paul writes, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly … But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6, 8). Second, God is also holy and just. Job reflected on the holy nature of God as he said, “Indeed, it is true that God does not act wickedly and the Almighty does not pervert justice” (Job 34:12). Because of God’s holy nature, he expects his people to act holy, as well. In Leviticus, God said, “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2). Jesus furthers this thought, saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

 

Truth #2: Human agents are free. This topic can easily dive into some deep wells of philosophical and theological thought. Suffice to say, for now, the Bible suggests that human beings hold some degree of free agency. That is, human beings choose to act to at least some degree. God’s call on people to repent is sufficient to show the ability of people to freely act to at least some degree. Jesus called on people to repent, saying, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well” (Lk. 13:3). Peter picked up this theme and said, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

 

Truth #3: God desires to save humanity. God desires to save humanity from their sin and themselves. Jesus lamented Jerusalem’s refusal to repent in Matthew 23:37. God expressed his desire to save people rather than to bring judgment in Ezekiel 18. The chapter ends with God lamenting, “For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death … so repent and live” (Ezek. 18:32). It is when a person and society turn from God that evil increases. Throughout the book of Judges, one finds an example of what happens as a nation further slips into depravity as they continue to reject the loving will of God.

 

Truth #4: God holds each person accountable for their actions. Lastly, the Scripture teaches that God holds each person accountable for their actions. This is not only true for unbelievers, but it is also true for believers. Paul speaks on the Judgment Seat of Christ in 1 Corinthians 9:4–27; 2 Corinthians 5:10–11; and Romans 14:10. The writer of Hebrews adds, “And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment—so also Christ, having been offered only once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Heb. 9:27–28). Thus, each person will have to give an account for their deeds.

 

Conclusion

Christianity holds the best answer for why a loving God allows evil deeds to occur. Could he stop every evil act? Well, he could and sometimes has. But if God were to intervene in every act of evil, he would remove the free agency of humanity. Remember that God allowed himself to become victimized by the depraved nature of humanity. He allowed himself to be crucified on a cross at the hands of evil men to provide the ultimate good—a way for humanity to be reconciled to himself. This opened a pathway into an eternity with him.

Granted, the solution that Christianity offers does not always bring immediate gratification. We often want justice now for atrocious acts committed. If you find yourself in that situation, then rest assured that you are in good company. The prophet Habakkuk contemplated the same. Yet God answered the prophet much as he does us. Justice is coming. God will weigh the actions of each person and will judge accordingly. But know this, only a covenant relationship with God through Christ will grant you access into his kingdom. Make sure that your heart is right with him. To allow anyone into heaven, God must extend grace rather than judgment. Personally, I am thankful for God’s loving grace. Nonetheless, evil will not win in the end. Instead, the love of God wins for eternity.

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast and the founder of Bellator Christi. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); earned a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and plans to pursue philosophical studies in the future. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical hospice chaplain. Additionally, he serves as an editor for the Eleutheria Journal. At the prompting of the Lord, Brian established Bellator Christi Ministries in 2012. The ministry is aimed to provide readily available resources in theology, apologetics, biblical studies, and philosophy to those who want to know what Christianity teaches and why it should be believed. In 2019, Brian published his first book entitled the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. After finishing his Ph.D., Brian intends to publish more books. His areas of expertise include early NT creeds, near-death experiences, biblical reliability, the blend of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the need for empathy.

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

© 2022. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman, 2020).